Our topic today may seem like a very simple question, but as you might guess, there are a lot of things to consider when you’re replacing any major appliances. Price is just the beginning, and even that can be complicated.
According to the Department of Housing and Urban Development, around two-thirds of American homes have a dishwasher. Perhaps not surprisingly, a woman, Josephine Cochrane, invented this household appliance. She unveiled it at the Chicago World’s Fair in 1893. It wasn’t until the 1920’s, when plumbing was more common, that dishwashers really came into use in the home.
Some people are surprised to learn that using a dishwasher has significant benefits over washing your dishes by hand. In general, hand-washing uses much more water than cleaning dishes by machine. Organic Life tells us that you can save as much as 5000 gallons of water per year using your dishwasher. An efficient dishwasher uses just 4-6 gallons of water to clean a full load of dishes, and Energy Star rated machines are very inexpensive to run.
Optimizing the Efficiency of Your Dishwasher
Of course you can waste water with a dishwasher too, if you’re not careful. Here are some tips for optimizing the efficiency of your dishwasher use:
- Wait until the dishwasher is completely full before you run it.
- Don’t pre-rinse. Pre-rinsing can waste up to 20 gallons per load, according to Energy Star, and completely negates any savings you get from a water-efficient dishwasher. Detergents available today are designed to handle lots of gunk.
- Go phosphate free. Phosphates can be so damaging to waterways that the federal government banned them from laundry detergents in 1994. They’re still legal in dishwashing detergents, although more states are starting to ban that use as well. Look for brands that explicitly state that they’re phosphate free on the label (and, like phosphate-based detergents, are just as good at handling gunk).
Replacing Your Dishwasher
So there are a lot of good reasons to use your dishwasher, but there comes a time in the life of every appliance when it has to be replaced. The average lifespan of a dishwasher is 10 years, and there are a range of models and price points from which to choose when replacing your old one. Features and costs vary considerably, but you can be fairly sure that a new unit will save you money in energy costs, thanks to improvements in efficiency.
Other factors that will have an impact on your overall price for the job are the installation cost, as well as removal of the old dishwasher and any site prep that needs to be done.
Purchasing a New Dishwasher
The cost of a new dishwasher depends on the brand, features, and other considerations. Cost Owl provides this summary of things that will impact price:
#1. Energy Efficiency
Efficient dishwashers use about 10% less energy and 20% less water than standard models. Compare individual models by checking the yellow EnergyGuide label, which provides data on annual consumption and operating costs. For added energy savings, choose a model that lets you run a ½ load or energy-saving wash cycle.
Most dishwashers are designed to fit into a standard 24-inch under-counter space. Where space is at a premium, 18-inch built-in models, countertop models, and portable models are also available.
Standard-sized dishwashers usually hold about a dozen place settings, although interior configuration should also be considered. Large families—or those who want to wait longer between washes—can benefit from a higher-capacity dishwasher.
#4: Filter Type
Dishwasher filters prevent washed-away food from ending back up on clean dishes. Manual filters must be removed and cleaned occasionally, while self-cleaning filters require no upkeep (auto filters are louder, though).
Features such as adjustable racks, ample room for flatware, and fold-down tines make it easy to fit all your dishes into the machine, regardless of their size or shape. They’re usually standard on higher-end dishwashers but can be found on cheaper models as well.
More expensive models typically have stainless steel tubs (which stain less than plastic tubs), interactive controls, quieter operation, a soil sensor (for improved efficiency), better information displays, and hidden touchpad controls, none of which actually make them better at cleaning dishes.
That being said, the average cost of a new dishwasher can range from a minimum of $500 to upwards of $3000. High-end brands include Bosch and Miele. Many retailers include installation in the cost of the machine, but there can be an additional charge. If there are existing connections and a straightforward installation, expect to pay at minimum $250 for delivery and installation.
Considering the energy savings and water conservation you achieve with a dishwasher, it makes sense to use one. And when your existing unit begins to show its age, a replacement can immediately begin to pay for itself in lower energy consumption. This, along with the time savings that a dishwasher represents, make it a great investment for your home.
For more information on the real costs of home maintenance, download this free whitepaper.